Why do I need all these features?

Hi All

I spent some time searching these forums, have found discussions that try to address bits and pieces, but I haven’t seen this asked directly. So here goes. Before I had any hearing loss (you know, back in the olden days :)), my brain was able to filter out a voice in a noisy restaurant, ignore whirring fans and noises in a car. I could listen to music or talk one on one with a friend. Virtually all of that capability comes from my brain, not my cochlea. So, why do I suddenly need a hearing aid with multiple programs, noise cancellation algorithms and all the rest? None of which seem to work particularly well (except maybe speech in a quiet environment), and make for a very complex fitting process. Why wouldn’t a straight forward, 4 band, high fidelity, programmable amplifier be the best solution of all? Compensate for the frequency-based losses, to get a “clean” audio signal to the brain, and let the brain continue to do the processing it’s evolved for millions of years to do? Isn’t that essentially what analog hearing aids do? Is it all just marketing, or is there a real benefit to all these added features. Thanks!


perhaps you ought to experience the difference for yourself,

i would encourage you to go to your local audi and ask him-her to fit

you with a analoge programable hearing aid and walk out to the busy street

to see how it feels. then maybe you could ask him to fit you a mid to high

end digital and perhaps you would be able to tell the difference…

i have been practicing for along time, and while there is much to do still,

we have come a long way… specially in the last 4-5 years…

i would tend to think most professionals who had been practicing for more

10 yrs would agree.


Hi Xbulder:
Why I can hear speech much better by Beltone CSP-II programmable analog than Siemens Centra and several top end digital hearing aids?
Am I abnormal? I am still finding digital hearing aid to replace CSP-II. Any comment on Microtech Radius? Is it the same hearing aid as Starkey Destiny?:frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

i believe the others professional in this forum would agree you are not the
normal person…
microtech is a Starkey company hence you will have the same chip
architecture… and the same service…

Maybe you can have a digital instrument program to be linear to sound just like a analogue… but honestly i just dont see the point…

you are certainly the execption…

I work with a lot of children, and I have fitted digital aids to children which
where used to use analoge, most of the reject them but after a few weeks
they were happy with the changes… this is a well documented fact…

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Hi xbulder

You said “… you can have a digital instrument program to be linear to sound just like a analogue.”

I’m still a newb, so could you clarify? Do analog aids have a flat gain, regardless of the frequency, or can they be programmed with the compensation you need for specific frequency bands? My original question was regarding an analog hearing aid that could be programmed based on the audiogram, not just a flat amplification, or possibly a digital instrument with only the needed gain, but no other signal processing (let the brain do the work). Thanks.


generally the analogue instruments I have fitted in my analogue years
the instrument have a tone control which can give more treble or bass

a maximum power output, sometimes a gain handle with a choice of
AGC i or AGC o …

All analogue instruments are program based on the audiogram using a fitting formula, basically being NAL RP or the DSL, because of the limitations

of the products you end up amplifing certain regions more and amplifing certain regions less…

Most people who had in fact used analoge for years and switch to digital feel that digitals often times are to weak, ( because they are use to more gain than needed)…

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Hi xbulder

Thanks for the response. I think I understand analog aids a little better now. They apparently don’t provide very good control of frequency compensation or gain. And maybe analog technology isn’t capable of providing sufficient filtering and gain control in a hearing aid-sized package, where digital aids are capable. Long term analog wearers have adjusted to the way they sound, and can have problems adapting to a “truer” audio sound from a digital aid.

For me personally, I have seen VERY LITTLE value to the extra features in my Phonak microEleva BTE aids. I get a huge benefit in quiet environments, where boosting the high frequencies really improves speech intelligibility, but so far the “speech in noise” program has been pretty much a waste of time. My last adjustment on Friday seems to have degraded the quiet mode now, where it almost feels like the HAs are turned off. I’m trying to get back in quickly to try again, but it’s New Years Eve, and the office may be closed until after the first of the year. Not too happy right now.


perhaps it is time to try a different brand instrument…

I would say
Siemens Centra?
Oticon Epoq?
GN Azure?
Unitro Yuu? (this is to similar to the Phonak)

Most audis have instruments so they can fit you in the spot one and
you might be able to test them in their office… Most fitting software
have some sort of sound studio so can see if there is an instrument
that works best for you…

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Hi xbulder

I don’t think it’s the HAs (Phonak mircoElevas) that are the problem. Everything I’ve read says these are good instruments. So far I’ve had 3 different settings. The first one with the new aids was great, except I asked for more directionality in the speech in noise program. So he increased the level of noise canceling it applied, and I ended up with a hollow buzzy sound to all speech, my own voice included. The third try he made adjustments in the office to get rid of the hollow buzzy voice sound, but I’ve found that now it feels almost like the instruments are turned off (like they’ve lost all of the gain). Each adjustment has been progressively worse, not better. The best was the first configuration with (I assume) factory defaults. This doesn’t give me much confidence in his ability to adjust my mircoElevas, even though he wears them himself! He’s an experienced Audiologist who’s been in business nearly 25 years, so I’m not sure what’s going on. He should know what he’s doing. If this continues, I’ll turn them back in (trial period ends first of Feb) and go to Costco. <frustrated>


I would try Centras - Siemens or Oticon epoqs or the GN Azure

  • i would think the azure are the cheapest of all

What brands does Costco sells??

I believe the more economical brands from the big companies.
If we call for instance Siemens a first tier, rexton which is a siemens company with similar products we call this second tier…
So i think they sell Bernafon, Rexton and Unitron (not sure)
some sell phonak and also they sell unbranded hearing aids

Hi JJRay

I haven’t checked, because I still haven’t decided to give up on my current Audi, but Bernafon for sure. They also have a “store brand”, but I don’t know who makes it for them. I haven’t had much luck trying to call one of their HA Centers, but I visited one and they were very willing to talk with me. I believe you need to join to use the Hearing Aid Center. Costs $50 to join.


Generally GN out of china…
if not probably Lisound which is doing a lot of work in the US (this is crap)

Dag: I think it is the hearing aids. I just turned in my Phonak Savia ARt to my audi after 6week trial . Same issues as you. The noise reduc program reduced and muddied speech. No help at all. (SEE hearing aids: SAvia vs Starky Destiny eval)

Am going to try older generation digital with the pure two mic system .One click turns off the rear mic for 30 db reduc in sound from sides and back. Other clic is omni two mics working. This allows to concentrate on speaker without interference noise back /sides. No reduction is speech. XBuilder has recomm an aid for me.

Not suggesting you go this radical , but follow XBuilder advise and FIRST try different present generation aids first.

Am still wondering if anyone knows of present generation aids with no auto noise reduction , but with two manual noise reduc programs.

I would say GN azure is something you would like to try…
while it has some noise reduc… it does not have automatic directionality like most aid does as it is based on a different and un comon concept call Natural directionality…

I might have a small advice to you… Generally most hearing aids are predictive based if you could think predictive based instruments have some sort of set parameters for what the aid considers to be noise what is consider to be speech in quiet etc etc… based on those parameters the aids
make appropiate changes… The problem is that there is significant variance…
However, most highend instruments are trainable…

that is the instrument would remember you volume or gain preferences and over time the instrument would learn your VC preferences… You might benefit from this…

see below for Ed’s pontifications

The difference between an analog aid and a digital is major. An analog aid uses some kind of volume limiter circuit like a K amp to handle loud sounds. It is not frequency selective and does butcher the very loud sounds to some extent (introduces distortions).

Hard of hearing people have a limited dynamic range…,…meaning from the softest sound they can hear to the loudess sound they can tolerate is much smaller than that in a normal person. The digital aids are able to compress the incoming sound to fit their limited dynamic range without introducing excessive distortions.

The digital aids divide the audible sounds into 4 or more frequency channels and compress the loud sounds in each channel to handle the typical hard of hearing persons excessive sensitivity to the louder sounds. And this has the advantage of boosting the soft sounds to a level that can be heard.

In addition digital aids include two or more microphones in what’s called a phased array to provide highly directional hearing. This directional feature is the only proven system for improving hearing in noise. (they can provide up to about 10 to 12 db of improvement…not possible to achieve much more in the limited physical space on a tiny hearing aid.)

In addition some aids have up to 32 channels of noise reduction. They analyze the noise and notch out the noise frequency leaving the other channels untouched.

All the other hype features are of marginal use in the real world.

Having said that digital aids properly fitted provide far superior control over what is put in to the ear drum than any analog can. Those that have used analog aids for years and switch to digital should remember that they have trained their brain for the sound and problems inherent in analog and should give the digitals at least a couple of months trial before judging the relative merits of the old vs the new. Ed

Small correction, directional mics have been used in analogue instruments
a while ago… So it is not entirely true that the digital aids do use
direc mics

Hi lucky1man - Thanks for the info and pointer to the other discussion. Sounds exactly what I’m experiencing. I don’t have as severe a loss, but I’d sure like to feel I’m getting what I paid for. I currently get a good improvement for speech in quiet, but not sure I’m getting much help in noisy environments. Why pay for the extra features? I’d like to try an Azure or a Delta 6000 next, but neither is offered by HearPO. Will talk with my Audi on 1/14.

Hi xbulder - As you can see above, the Azure is one I’d definitely like to try. What I’ve read of the technical specs just seems to make sense to me. It seems they more closely model the human ear. Let the brain do it’s job.

Hi ed121 - Thanks very much. Your description of loss of dynamic range, and analog aids not being able to compress the audio into a more limited range, really makes sense. Nothing is ever as simple as it appears at first glance.

Keep on truckin’.